You might wonder why Ogunquit and other shore towns with sand dunes discourage people and their dogs from climbing on, sliding down, and walking on our dunes.
We have a barrier beach; our sand dunes protect our fragile wetlands and marsh from the ocean waves. Our marsh is home to an ark of small fish, crabs, clams, marsh birds of various kinds. A break in the dunes would be catastrophic.
You might have seen a wind driven ocean storm’s waves swallowing a beach and smashing against protective dunes. The dunes keep storm, wind driven, often very high tide waves from washing into our wetlands where a precious balance of salt and fresh water, along with a protective marsh, provides a nursery for fish, and a habitat for a wide variety of life.
Dunes are often held by its plants – our beach has beach grass and Rosa Rugosa and a variety of other plants that have roots that hold what would otherwise be loose sand; the plants themselves capture blowing sand and help build the dunes.
Plants are a major player in building both beaches and dunes. The seaweed and plants on the foredunes also trap sand and work to build a beach. When these plants are disturbed by foot traffic, by people climbing the dunes or kids sliding down our dunes, or by dogs racing around the dunes, they lose their ability to hold the sand and the dunes can be in trouble.
Few beaches in Maine have sand dunes; many dunes have houses built on them like Moody Beach in Wells or a road on them, like Long Sands Beach in York. Given this natural wonder and the need to protect fragile wetlands should be reason enough to help us protect these barriers of destructive storm seas.
Ogunquit beach has been accumulating sand thanks to those who have stayed off our dunes. Help us preserve our dunes that protect our wetlands and feed our beach by admiring their beauty. Don’t destroying them by going on them.